Saturday, August 1, 2015

NEC XM29 Plus Broadcast Monitor

I lucked into another broadcast monitor recently, this time the "holy grail" of retro gaming monitors, NEC's XM29 Plus. I won't rehash a whole bunch of info that's available elsewhere, but I will provide some answers to questions I had as I started using it:

Unlike the Sony PVM series, the XM29 Plus has no support for component inputs, but it supports almost everything else (Svideo, composite, RGBHV, VGA). You can get a YPbPr-to-VGA transcoder, like this thing, but most of them (including that one) don't support resolutions below 640x480, so they're not good for PS1 (which frequently jumps between 480i and "240p"), non-progressive PS2 games (admittedly, the vast majority of PS2 games are 480p-capable), or "240p"/doublestrike emulation via Wii homebrew, etc.

That said, I don't think component is a particularly useful on the XM29, which is a shame because that's what I had settled on for use with my PVM. Instead, it seems best to stick with RGB SCART, which is easily converted to RGBHV, as the XM29 has two of those inputs available. You will need a sync cleaner, though, so either get a sync strike or get a cable with a sync cleaner built-in, like this one.

There's a lot of uncertainty online about which resolutions work over SCART but I can answer definitively: 480p over RGB SCART totally works fine.

Other than that, there's not much else to say. Low-res non-interlaced content has extremely sharp scanlines with thick, black spaces between them, which some people don't care for. Likewise, interlaced content bobs very visibly when sitting close to the screen. Slight geometry issues are also apparently common on these monitors, and mine's no exception. However, it still looks great and many of the imperfections can be hidden with a teensy bit of overscan.

Here are some shots (click to embiggen):
240 noninterlaced full frame TATE
240 noninterlaced closeup TATE


Anonymous said...

I've always wondered how DOS and 2D Windows games would look on such an awesome monitor... Maybe you could post some screenshots, pretty please! :)

u-man said...

I have only the XM29 (without plus) or better said the Nec 3PG. I love that monitor in every aspect. He has native 640x480pixels, but can do also 800x600p or even higher, but interlaced resolutions. Even Pinball emus are looking satisfying, but the XM29 Plus should have even better image quality.

This tri-sync thing can do practily every resolution (15-25-31khz) you can dream of as a arcade fan and can easily be rotated. Has even grips for doing that :) .

I did go the Scart->VGA cable route (with built in sync-splitter)for my PS1 (fantastic image quality) and a Component->VGA box (for my X-Box).
The Component->VGA box has a switch for VGA->VGA (for my PC).

I am so satisfied with this monitor, i dont want anything else anymore. Feed with MAME or any console from lowres (SNES, NES, Atari 2600 etc.) up to 480p (x-box, ps2, Dreamcast, Gamecube), this monitor beats everything. The very nice and convenient remote control with screen scale on top, make it my favourite.

Good Review:

Anonymous said...

I have an XM29 Plus as well but I haven't been using it as much lately due to this high pitched sound coming from the tv when using low res inputs (video 1&2). I think it has something to do with the flyback transformer but I don't want to be poking around there with the high voltage currents.

Hunter K. said...

Yeah, it probably is the flyback. If you want to get it fixed, Sharp Image Repair in Las Vegas does really fantastic work at a reasonable price. I'm not sure how hard it is to pull the board on these TVs, but shipping the bare board to a shop will be a lot cheaper than shipping the whole thing. :)

If you do decide to pull the board, you'll have to learn how to discharge the flyback, which isn't terribly difficult if you're careful, though it can be quite stressful when you're aware of the voltages involved, lol. While you probably won't find a good CRT repair technician locally, you might find someone who will pull the board for a nominal fee so you can send it off for repair.

If you would rather sell it than repair it, I may a know a guy... He's always asking to buy mine :P

Anonymous said...

I've had mine found from a Craigslist ad from 20011, and it's been going quite strong. My only lamentations with it are the size and weight (I physically can't rotate something twice my weight), lack of component input (Wii, original Xbox), needing an adapter for the DB-15 input for pass-thru (it's not the same as the old Macs), and lack of support for the scan ranges between 16.5 to 31.5. Other than that, it's a gorgeous display.

Analytics Tracking Footer